The question of the usefulness of film in school has been discussed in Poland since the 1920s, when Juliusz Sokolicz-Wroczyki  published one of the earliest articles dedicated to this problem, in which he advised his contemporary educationalists to follow carefully the development of cinematography. As I wrote before, at the turn of the new millennium [Sokoowski, 2000, pp. 73-86], we were very diligent observers of foreign theoretical concepts and promoted them in Poland because numerous pedagogical journals, and especially Owiata i Wychowanie informed readers about the growth of the film art outside the Polish Republic’s borders and mentioned the ongoing discussions in foreign papers, hoping that disseminating such news among teachers would have a profound influence and help to introduce films to schools. Unfortunately, most teachers did not appreciate the role of a film in modern education, but thought of it as a troublesome novelty, something that teachers themselves should first become acquainted with through a laborious effort. Although, some suggestions to introduce film didactics into teacher training institutions were expressed in 1929 [Nowak-Zaorska, 1969, s. 21], they did not receive much response and failed to find true enthusiasts, who would not be afraid to experiment with film in the conservative reality of the Polish education during the interwar years of 1919-1939.
Despite new discussions which sprang in the postwar years in West Europe, the question of using film in schools was at first ignored in the Polish pedagogical and film thought. The efforts made by a team of researchers associated with the od Film School and headed by Bolesaw W. Lewicki (1908-1981) led to the formation of a circle of Polish film theorists and film critics, who stirred up intellectual ferment.
Consequently, as early as in the 1960s, importance of the role of film in a new school was analyzed [Lewicki, 1964, 1995]. What matters to us is the beginning of a scientific debate on film as a teaching aid, helpful in education, and on film as the 20th century art, a new means of communication, a product that is as much technical as artistic and aesthetic, whose essence should be explored during lessons specially designed for this purpose.
This earliest interest of Polish pedagogues in the potential use of film encouraged Janina Koblewska-Wrblowa to write several articles and books, including The Feature Film in School , written under the auspices of the Institute of Pedagogy in Warsaw. That book, although not free from many naive observations and conclusions, had a postulative character. It made readers aware of the importance of the issue, but did not try to resolve how to deal with media education in school practice, where teachers were unprepared to this kind of work.
Many questions remained unexplored and were supposed to be filled with meaning by teachers who would undertake to teach classes on film.
The 1970s is the time of lively theoretical discussions, focusing on new school curricula and the planned reorganization of the education system, in which the special role of mass media, including film and dynamically growing television, was recognized. While working on new curricula, an important dilemma appeared, namely where to place this special type of education. First, it was proposed to include it into the native language learning, as part of the Polish Studies. Another suggestion was to create a new subject – Aesthetic Education, which would combine all arts. The introduction of film to Polish lessons was justified by the requirements of school practice, and so one of the four then existing models of film education was adapted, that is the one in which film was an element of the native language learning.
When the concept of a ten-year-long primary school was abandoned, and Poland went through social and political transformation in the 1990s, education had to be remodelled and film education had to be expanded to cover all media.
In the search for a media education model The late 1990s was the time of an intensive search for the best media education model, a model that began to be shaped anew, taking advantage of IT education, stimulated by the IT market growth, easier access to personal computers, media education orientated towards the opportunities and threats of using media in education, and Information Technology introduced to schools as a new subject. In 1997, Wacaw Strykowski from the Department of Educational Technologies at Adam Mickiewicz University in Pozna organized the First International Media and Education Science Conference, which helped to integrate groups of Polish media educators and allowed them to listen to the most outstanding media researchers and theorists from all the world. At that time, the media pedagogy in Poland was looking for its place as an arsing subdiscipline in pedagogy. As mentioned by Mikoaj L.
Lipowski [2006, p. 121], the birth of media pedagogy was associated with the reform of the educational system in Poland prepared in the 1970s, when would-be teachers were educated and professionally active teachers were retrained. It was then assumed that a Polish teacher should have a higher education degree corresponding to the subject or subjects taught, and adequate teacher training so as to teach in the most modern fashion, keeping up with the latest world developments. Although some of these decisions were political and served the state’s propaganda, the academic circles engaged in initial teacher education and continuing professional development made a serious effort to meet the challenge. The relevant literature dating back to the 1970s documents various studies in the field of higher school teaching methods applied to the subject called Technical Means of Teaching, which became an obligatory course at all teacher colleges. More and more Polish researchers made this subject their main research objective. The following can be mentioned, in alphabetic order, as the founders of this earliest stage of the Polish mass media education: Eustachy Berezowski, Edward Fleming, Jan Jacoby, Franciszek Januszkiewicz, Leon Leja, Bogdan Suchodolski. On the global scale, this subdiscipline in pedagogy was just as new as in Poland, but the Polish media education developed differently owing to different cultural conditions, rooted in our history, and mainly the technical culture of the Polish society, which proved to be somewhat different from the culture that had been shaped over centuries in highly developed western countries. Another differentiating factor was the lack of private and commercial media on the Polish market. The existing media were state-owned and orientated towards ideological broadcast and indoctrination of the society. Paradoxically, however, that helped Polish researchers to penetrate the media more thoroughly and prevented them from treating the research subject instrumentally. Instead, it was analyzed in the context of cognitive psychology and deep humanistic orientation. The above is confirmed by the fact that even in the Polish People’s Republic, despite certain objective limitations, the Polish media education built some firm theoretical and practical foundations.
A new stimulus for further action in the search for the most optimal model of media education in Poland, education which should be a specific key to the world of the media, was given by the report called Media Education, prepared by the Committee on Culture and Education of the Council of Europe and published in 2000. The report emphasizes the need to support media education in order to create a critical and expert approach to mass media. Although media education is taught in schools in several European countries, its practical application seems questionable – even with respect to the traditional media, because we are uncertain as to the place media education should have in the curriculum, the methodology of teaching, the objectives pursued and the evaluation of the results [Sokoowski, 2002, p. 4]. The report recommended to analyze the existing practical solutions in media education in the EU member countries so as to promote the best ones, and to elaborate and develop teacher training programmes. In response, Poland published its own report, titled Media Education. The report was commissioned by the State Radio and Television Council and written by a team headed by Wiesaw Godzic . Having recapitulated the problems of media education, perceived as a complex activity, Godzic [2004, pp. 103-117] assessed the state of media education in Poland in the early 21st century as highly unsatisfactory, noticing that most of the participants of the media and education arena did not recognize the need to formulate media education programmes. Having critically described the up-to-date efforts of media educators, the report concludes that the current stage of reflection on media in education was characterized by the dominant paternalistic approach, which was associated with a fear of the media, an American moral panic and the heritage of the Frankfurt school, critical towards the mass culture. Godzic claimed that these projects were obviously utopian and protectionist, i.e. protecting viewers, listeners, readers, media consumers against the factors which the media broadcaster deems negative, and controlling the meaning of programmes by the broadcaster. However, there are not too many arguments in favour of the option which presumes that the media contents should be rigorously controlled. Even if it was possible, at least partly, to impose such restrictions, the result would be disastrous, as many past examples demonstrate. Thus, we need to make a choice: either frighten people of the media and their potential destructive influence or select positive or at least neutral examples in this sphere. The relevant literature presents a clear-cut distinction between the basic (mainstream) media education and the type of education with a teleological approach, that is goaloriented. The former type of media education consists of analysis of mass communication messages, whereas the latter one focuses on the educational application of new technologies. Should media education consist of gaining access to information in a variety of formats, and on the analysis, evaluation and creation of such information [Tella, 1997, pp. 11-21], then we are witnessing a move away from the up-to-date perception of media education as autotelic and from the aestheticorientated standpoint towards a socially-orientated approach. However, a question arises as to the identity of a media education teacher. According to the most popular approach in Poland, orientated towards educational application of new technologies, a media education teacher is someone who is expected to use a computer and all applications so as to create a complete, multimedia entity. The teacher is a master or someone who passes knowledge from masters, someone who occupies the place of an analyst and an expert. This position is neither the most sensible nor the most useful one in the realities of any school. In another version, the teacher does not have to be one of the mass communication researchers, but assumes the position of a recipient, who looks for the meanings of audiovisual messages and then, as Godzic claims, the broadest definition of the scope of media education becomes attainable.
In practice, how was media education taught in the Polish school at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries The school system reform, which was being implemented then, had been prepared by the Ministry of National Education, and the original project assumed that a separate subject, called Media Education, would be introduced into curricula of both junior (gimnazjum) and senior (liceum) secondary schools, which is why all pedagogical courses at higher schools added the course called Media in Education, taught in the form of lectures and workshops, while some university faculties established separate major courses, leading students towards a master degree in media education. However, the idea of running a separate subject in schools was soon abandoned. Instead, educators would rather add some issues connected with media knowledge to general syllabuses and allow school head teachers to decide whether to offer classes in ‘reading and media education’ as a separate subject. The original project, although far from being perfect, distinguished ‘media education’ as a separate course and was more realistic than the recommendations to conduct the socalled inter-subject educational path, to be followed by many teachers during their lessons. Thus, the sphere of media communication and media knowledge was approached as an application with respect to liberal arts, history or fine arts education. Quite a broad scope of media knowledge was added to the new subject in junior secondary schools, called Cultural Studies. The above solution, that is dividing media education between several different subjects, meant that media education in Poland diverged from the existing and proven models in Western countries, which would have given us a chance to create a modern and stable system of teacher and learner education. It was a mistake to connect media education with information technology because an IT teacher in an average school in Poland is able to transmit the basic information on how to use a computer, but cannot teach learners to read culture texts such as films and television programmes, radio programmes, paper or electronic newspapers or magazines, in the humanistic, anthropologic or purely utilitarian context. This is why, Zbigniew Bauer and Andrzej Wojman [2002, pp. 8182] wrote, not without a trace of certain bitterness, that media education in Poland remains an island of which we know that it exists but few of us would like to land on it and even fewer could settle down there. Many teachers of the Polish language know that their pupils dislike reading novels, so they advise them to watch film or television adaptations, but mainly to become more easily acquainted with the plot and main motifs [Sokoowski, 1996, pp. 102-108]. However, young people who are not educated in film studies will respond to a film differently than professionals, film theorists or film critics. During the school education, there is hardly any chance for a learner to focus on the distinct nature of films, including specific codes, languages, styles, actors’ expressions, layout of shots, role of music in a film, etc.
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